By Tonya Abeln
The Mercier brothers have a keen and instinctual gift of bringing levity to even the most stressful of situations. A well-developed sense of humor mixed with their easy-going nature make them a delight to spend time with one-on-one, but also a mammoth of a social force when they are combined. While it’s true that they have great comedic timing, their timing when entering the professional field of real estate could not have been worse. When it comes to careers, it wasn’t the first love for any of them, but ultimately, real estate is where they each have found their true passion.
The oldest, Todd, recounts, “I started in this industry when the mortgage crisis was happening in 2008. I had moved to Louisville to start the nursing program at UofL and I couldn’t figure out why I was in a panic two weeks before I was set to begin. It was because I didn’t really want to do that.” He knew he enjoyed finance and numbers, but what he didn’t know was that everything in the industry was imploding and 90 percent of the mortgage companies in Louisville were closing. With no one in the position to make a hire, Todd approached Lisa Kaiser, who owned a private brokerage, about doing an internship so he could learn the business. She eventually hired him and he’s been in the mortgage industry ever since.
Todd prides his approach to business on never having bought a lead, something that is not uncommon in the industry. “I have always been 100 percent referral-based,” he explains. “I feel like in this business or any type of sales or marketing, it is all about networking, and fortunately, I love to socialize and go to events. Finding a lead is never my motivation when I am out, but I have found that, honestly, you can talk to anybody and through that dialogue, eventually a need reveals itself in a very organic way.”
“This industry fits his personality so well,” offers Jacob, the middle brother, and the second to take the leap into real estate. “Todd is such a people person and is able to establish relationships really quickly.” After witnessing how much his older brother was enjoying the industry, Jake was curious about the possibilities, but his timing wasn’t any better. Having worked in the nonprofit industry for years, he found himself burned out and frustrated. However, since his grant program was affiliated with a college, he was able to take classes. “I decided to take real estate courses just for fun and to get out of a mental rut,” Jake recalls. “I ended up with a certificate in real estate and all the requirements for a license, so I thought, why not get my license and finish what I started?”
A chance encounter with a college friend opened the door for Jake to be named director of sales for Property Management of Louisville and their newly developed PML Real Estate. “The market was still in terrible shape,” he reveals, “and everyone thought I was nuts to leave my current job. In hindsight, I was. I definitely learned the industry the hard way and spent the first three to four years representing banks and portfolios that were going under and helping people get out of mortgages they couldn’t afford and short sales. I remember saying to my older brother, ‘I think I’ve made a mistake. I used to have vacation and sick days.’”
Chris chimes in with a characteristic quip, “I let them test drive the industry over the bumps and potholes and then I waited to come in when there were no real problems.” While the youngest knew he didn’t necessarily want to pursue real estate full time (he maintains a career at Humana), he seized the advantage of having the most accessible mentors around. “I had the opportunity to be candid with my questions and not have to take into consideration workplace or industry politics,” Chris describes. “I could just be my usual blunt self.”
“Well, that’s an understatement!” laughs Jake.
Each brother has a very distinct personality that they bring to the table. In Chris’ words, “Todd can walk into a room, and within 10 minutes, he can introduce you to everyone there. Jake has an incredibly extended network of friends, but he is able to maintain all of those relationships in a very real and meaningful way. I am not as extroverted as they are, but I am very candid, and I don’t sugar coat anything.”
For Chris, that translated into a way to work in real estate part-time, with a more narrow approach. “This is something I want to do because I love it,” he says. “So this gives me the opportunity to work with one client at a time and really focus my efforts on putting that smile on their face without interfering with my full-time job.”
Despite a lifetime of talking about a family business, the brothers maintain careers separately. Todd is a senior mortgage consultant at American Mortgage Solutions; Jacob is a Realtor at ReMax 100: The Mawood Group; and Chris is a licensed realtor at PML Real Estate Group, where Jake started his real estate career. However, they are always a resource for each other. “Probably the most memorable professional experience I’ve had,” Jake says, “is when I represented the seller, Chris represented the buyer, and Todd did the mortgage. It’s great to be able to get answers for your clients immediately and not just within business hours. For example, I have no problem calling Todd with a question at one o’clock in the morning.”
To which Todd responds in jest, “And I have no problem declining that call.” He continues, “Buying a home is a very exciting, yet scary, process. It’s something people only do a few times, or even once, in a lifetime. I think the ease and chemistry that we have as brothers brings a level of comfort to the table and keeps the lines of communication open.”
Jake expands, “What we try to focus on, is that, while there is a lot for us to know and manage in this sometimes stressful roller coaster, there is also a way for us to keep it fun. It’s okay to have a good time and have real conversations. It doesn’t have to be so tense, uptight and sterile or it is going to be a nightmare for all of us. True, there is a lot that can go wrong and there is plenty to be stressed out about, but there is nothing so bad that you can’t figure it out. As my first mentor taught me,’Nobody dies in real estate.’” VT
Senior Mortgage Consultant with American Mortgage Solutions
10602 Timberwood Circle, Suite 3
“I’ve heard horror stories where something happens to one of the people in a couple and the family of the deceased comes in to take the house because it wasn’t titled properly for joint tenants with right of survivorship. That’s an unfortunate reality for some couples. I like being able to provide guidance and reassurance for gay and lesbian couples that no one is going to be able to take this home away from them regardless of how their family may feel about their sexuality. It’s a valid concern as I see more LGBTQ couples buying houses together, and I like being able to protect them.”
Realtor with ReMax 100: The Mawood Group
154 Thierman Lane
“Buying a home is usually the biggest purchase people will make in their life. Managing expectations and communicating upfront what exactly to expect from start to finish can make the entire process less scary for a client. At the end of the day, there is nothing so awful for anyone to lose their sanity over. There are ups and downs to this process, but we will get through it together. Hopefully, we will have a little fun along the way as well.”
Licensed Realtor with PML Real Estate Group
1815 Frankfort Avenue
“Think of the reasons people usually buy a home – you are going through a major change: the breakup or the start of a relationship or marriage, starting or expanding a family, changing jobs and moving cities, or sometimes a death. In some ways, we double as a counselor for some of our clients. I like being able to set them up for success in their life as they undergo these changes. I especially love dealing with first-time home buyers because I remember the uncertainty of being one myself, and I like to put them at ease with this process.”